Teacher burnout: A leadership perspective and measures to reduce it

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


The needs, priorities, interests and characteristics of students, parents and school management have rapidly changed around the world in the last few decades due to the easy accessibility of knowledge. There is a conflict between community expectations and teachers' aspiration in relation to the status of a teacher. In this conflict, when the teacher sees herself as helpless, powerless, alienated, and with reduced personal accomplishment and low status, this is the stage of burnout. This is a serious educational dilemma and cannot be neglected. Research reveals that burnout of human service professionals is common in all fields including teaching (Barnett et al., 1999). Burnout teachers continue their work and cause harm to their own life and the well-being of students (Dworkin, 1985 & Smith and Bourke, 1992).Timely preventive and restorative measures will help to reduce this serious dilemma. In Pakistani society, Teacher Burnout (TB) is considered a closed/neglected phenomena, as teachers do not speak about the way they are treated and what they undergo as teachers in their career due to fear of demotions and job security. However, internationally, when 22% of the professionals who are burnt out are teachers (Schaufeli, 1998 cited in Pines, 2002) and 85% of burnout teachers remain in the system (Dworkin, 2001) Pakistan cannot be excluded? Literature gives three perspectives to TB viz. psychological, sociological and psychodynamic. This study further explores a new perspective viz. TB through a leadership perspective and the ways to reduce it. The study was conducted through a qualitative multiple case study approach. Data were gathered through personal interviews, document analysis, observations and informal conversations that helped to triangulate the data drawn. Two head teachers from two private secondary schools of Karachi were the primary participants of this study. A vice-Principal and three teachers were interviewed to know their opinions and views about their head teachers' perspective. The findings of the study suggest that TB has a different definition; different factors and remedies from a leadership perspective as compared to the other three perspectives. The data provided insights as to TB with reference to educational reforms taking place. Teachers are facing problems of coping. In order to reduce this problem, schools need to plan well in advance and provide necessary skills, so that teachers become flexible. The work environment in schools should demonstrate collegiality, equal distribution of work, shared vision, empowerment and benefits to teachers so that they can balance their professional life with their personal lives. The findings highlight that the high status of a teacher, effective leadership techniques and regularity setup, to protect the rights of teachers, can avert TB to an extent. This study makes several recommendations. These include the need for open conversations and providing Principals with the opportunity to access training programmes to develop their skills in handling teachers who are burnt out and preventing TB.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library